9 essential tips for conquering the Doom beta this weekend
Doom‘s multiplayer is very, very, very good indeed. I know this because I got into the alpha test and played it for six hours straight by accident. But Doom’s multiplayer also requires a very specific set of attitudes and skills if you’re going to do well. I know this because I spent the first two of those hours floating around mid-table, before getting my head around things and immediately proceeding to dominate. Doom doesn’t work like most multiplayer shooters you’ve played recently. Not like any you’ve played in years, probably. As such, you’re going to want a pretty detailed crash-course before you head into the open beta this weekend. This is that crash course. Trust me, my kill-streaks last time were just embarrassing.
This is the most important thing to know in Doom. If you’re moving, you’re dangerous. You’re also as safe as you’re ever realistically going to be, and you’ll keep your mind in exactly the right active, improvisational state it needs to be in order to do well. If you stop moving? Well, you’ll die almost immediately. Get used to thinking like a hovercraft rather than a tank. Making rapid, unpredictable, lateral shifts is, defensively, far more important than moving backward or forward. A lot of Doom’s weapons can do good damage at range, so you want to stop anyone getting a straight line on you. Avoid direct, frontal attacks and keep mixing up your position in any duel. And make sure that you’re always ready to move back out of any engagement with precisely zero notice. Because…
With no health regeneration, you’ll have to drastically rethink your approach to close-range battles. There’s no chance of ducking briefly around a corner in order to come back into the fight stronger. If you try to sustain any engagement in Doom for too long, you’ll just come back dead. Most face-offs are fast bouts of strategic one-upmanship, not drawn-out fights of attrition. In order to do well out of that, you need to always, always keep an eye on your health, and be constantly aware of just how much damage you can put out in the next few seconds versus how much you can take. Personally, I won’t go hunting unless I have at least 90%. If someone engages you when you’re at 70 – 80% or less, and you can’t safely take them down fast, just get the hell out of there and heal up. And if you get hit by multiple attackers in that sort of health range, forget it. There’s no incentive in taking on that battle. As much as its fast, smart gunplay, Doom is all about weighing up wider tactical advantages on the fly. And with so many routes through each map, disappearing to heal before coming back at a surprise angle can be a really powerful technique.
And as for healing up…
Map knowledge is king in Doom. If you don’t know the map, then you don’t know where the health packs are, and if you don’t know where the health packs are, you’re not going to last long. Fortunately, there are a lot of them on each map, and they respawn very quickly. You’ll learn their availability in any given area pretty quickly if you get out there and explore fast. This is yet another reason that movement is absolutely key in Doom. If you’re not constantly manoeuvring and discovering, then you just will not earn the environmental knowledge needed to really succeed. Basically, as well as managing your position, evasive options, and health levels, you also need to keep your mind on your possible escape routes and your fastest, safest path to a health pack stash. Know them, use them, and combine them with the previous tips in order to stay alive. Unlike in most shooters, thinking about your enemy is a secondary consideration here. Maintaining your ability to stay in the fight is everything, even if that means temporarily leaving the fight. In Doom, the meta-game is the game. I cannot emphasise that enough. Okay, the crucial business of staying alive covered, let’s move on to the killing…
Doom has a lot of very cool, very interesting guns, all of which have specific effects and purposes. There’s no sifting through 80 variants of the same scope here. Each weapon you try out is going to be radically different from the last. That’s a lot more fun, but it also means you’re going to have to think harder about the load-outs you take into the map with you. Not only do you have to understand what each gun does, you need to think about exactly how it interacts with the others you might be carrying. Effective combat in Doom isn’t about using any one weapon, it’s about creating overall weapons systems through combinations of effects. You’ll work out your favourite death-delivery tools as you experiment and discover your own style, but given how dynamic Dooms’ shifting skirmishes are – things can and will transform utterly in a matter of seconds – and how quickly gaps can be closed and expanded, it’s a good idea to start with a long-range weapon sitting alongside a close-up solution. Then you can start working out what compliments what. I favour the Plasma Rifle for medium-range spam, followed by its gooey area-of-effect shot when moving in, then the Super Shotgun to clean up, but there are dozens of other possibilities. A charged Static Cannon shot to soften up from range, followed by a volley of grenades. A Vortex Rifle sniper shot across the map, before raining in a barrage of rockets to blanket-bomb the victim. But whatever you use, you need to make sure all the parts fit together for maximum effectiveness.
Don’t ignore the Equipment slot in your load-out. While not as fundamental as your guns, the secondary gear you take in can absolutely turn things around in certain situations. The Frag Grenade, for instance, only triggers its detonation timer on impact, making it a great impromptu landmine against incoming attackers if dropped at close range. And the vampiric Siphon Grenade is an utter game-changer once you learn how to use it properly. Sucking health from its targets and delivering it directly to the user, it can actually turn seemingly overwhelming enemy numbers into an advantage if used deftly enough. Double and triple kills are not unusual in choke-points. You won’t score lucky kills in Doom by wildly throwing grenades around, like in some other FPS, but use them smartly as close-to-medium range tools, and they’ll add a powerful extra dimension to your offence.
Without visible enemy health bars (unless you’re using the temporary Vital Signs perk), it can be tough to gauge the disparity in vitality between you and your opponents. Obviously you should always be around 100% going into any fight – see the entries on health management to find out exactly why and how – but not everyone plays that way. And besides, the odds can shift several times over during the course of a single face-off. Pro-tip: If someone is retreating from a fight, go straight after them. They’re not backing off to regen, because there is no regen in Doom. They’re in trouble, and have no course of action to immediately fix it. Their tactical backpedal is an emergency flare telling you that their health is low, so if yours is respectable, run them down. Just make sure that you only give chase if you can finish them off quickly, in the nearby vicinity. If they lead you on a chase to a room full of health packs, they’ll turn the tables on you horrifically. I know, because I’ve done it so many times before. A general rule of thumb is to disengage if they break line of sight or widen the gap past shotgun range.
Seriously. If you’re playing Team Deathmatch, and someone on the opposing team grabs the demon rune and transforms into a fittingly unpleasant, hellspawn beast, do not feel you are obligated to take it down. It will go away eventually, by way of either your teammates grinding it down, or the duration of the rune timing out. In the meantime, you can make yourself useful in ways other than throwing yourself repeatedly into the grinder. If you get hold of the ultra-powered Gauss Cannon – which appears on the map on a timer – then by all means have a go from afar. That’s a worthy pursuit. But otherwise, you can do your team – and your score – a great service by staying the hell out of the way. Not only will you be excluded from the demon-furnished bodycount added to the opposing team’s scoreboard, but by keeping your distance you’ll have an increased chance of picking off enemy players as both teams inevitably clash around the demon. You can quietly tip the scales in your favour by quite some way while everyone else is distracted by the main event.
Being a nine-foot, rocket-slinging demon is great. But you know what’s even better? Being a team player. While it’s easy to score a huge pile of kills with the Revenant on your own, you can empower your team several times over if you first use it to tool them up as well. If the Gauss Cannon and/or Quad Damage is on the map, use the demon to immediately reach it and then camp it. None of the opposition will be able to get near the prize, and your own team can get hold of all the power-ups on the map at the same time. A friend and I won an entire game like this in the last beta, and prompted more rage-quits than is at all dignified. We were the only players on our team.
Reiterating all of my previous points, seriously, do not over-estimate your ability to finish a fight. Over-confidence in your own safety will put you down fast. Dark Souls players know what I’m talking about. Doing well in Doom is the result of remaining aware of a great many things at the same time, and using all of that shifting knowledge to understand exactly how great your advantage – or disadvantage – is at any given time. Be intelligent, be perceptive, think constantly, and do not ever get cocky. If going after that extra kill feels like it’ll be a close-run thing, then in reality it’s probably going to be much tougher than you think. Do not do it. Stay alive. Move on. Kill many more people because you’re still alive to do so. That’s how you score the big points, and that’s how you win games.